A BIT OF HISTORY
How did everything start?
Legend has it that the Archangel Michel showed himself to Aubert, bishop of Avranches, on three occasions, commanding him to build a sanctuary on a granite outcrop that the locals called "Mount Tomb"... With or without these visions, Aubert heard the call to create an oratory on the mount in 709 A.D. It was just the first stage in a long series of transformations which the sanctuary - from then on known as Mont Saint Michel - was to witness during the next 1300 years.
Pilgrim destination and prison
Menaced by fire on many occasions, affected by sieges or political schemes, Mont Saint Michel was for centuries - right after Jerusalem and St. James' Way - one of the most important destinations for Christian pilgrims. Source of disputes between Normandy and Brittany, dukes and princes, the Abbey ended up being converted to prison after the French Revolution. Classified historic monument since 1874, the Abbey has been a UNESCO world heritage site for over four decades now (1979).
WHAT SHOULD YOU EXPECT?
Your tour guide will meet you at the train-station (if you will be travelling to Normandy on the day of the tour) or at your hotel in Bayeux or Caen. The drive from the aforementioned locations to Mont St. Michel takes approximately 1h30'. Accompanied by your guide, you will cover the last 1,5 miles, from the car park to the foot of the mount - either on foot (30' walk at a moderate pace) or by riding one of the free shuttles. This is where the main part of the experience will begin. After having worked your way through the village, the guide will take you on a private tour of the Abbey (1,5 hours). The visit will be followed by a quick but well-deserved lunch and, ultimately, the drive back to Bayeux or Caen. For customers staying in Bayeux the tour may also include, upon request, a visit to Bayeux Tapestry Museum (approximately 40' duration)
Commissioned by bishop Odo of Bayeux, the tapestry is actually an embroidery, presenting an illustrated account of the Norman Conquest. On a band of linen 231 feet (70 meters) long and 19.5 inches (0.5 meters) wide are embroidered, in worsted of eight colors, more than 70 scenes, starting with Harold's visit to Normandy and ending with his army's defeat at Hastings (1066).
Mont Saint Michel is...a mount. One might call this common sense but we feel it is important to remind you that the visit of the Abbey requires some step climbing. The guide will make several stops along the way to share anecdotes and give you an insight into the history of the village (and also give everybody the chance to catch their breath). Most people do not have any trouble in reaching the top but please keep in mind that Mont Saint Michel does not have an elevator and this part of tour is not recommended to people who are either disabled or have certain medical issues.
Your guide will accompany you every step of the way during the visit, outside as well within the walls of the UNESCO monument. Furthermore, the guided tour of the Abbey is included in the price of the tour and although the fast-track tickets are not comprised in the cost, the latter can be purchased prior to the tour using the dedicated page on the website of the Centre of French National Monuments.